A Travellerspoint blog

Malaysia and Hong Kong

Last stops in Asia

I'm writing this blog post on my way to Australia! I also added photos to the Cambodia and Singapore post (and I updated my Krabi entry with more info and photos as well). My time in Asia was fantastic, but I'm excited to move on to this chapter of my trip.

After Cambodia we flew to Hong Kong and we had a stopover in Kuala Lumpur. We decided to extend the stop over so we could go into the city to shop, eat dinner, and sightsee. In our 8 hours there we saw the Patronus Towers and China Town, ate some authentic Malaysian food, and shopped. It was great to have a few hours in the city and we were glad we didn't decide to stay there for any longer as there wasn't that much to do. I did run into a childhood friend from Keith Road in North Van named Andrew Russell. His sister and my sister were really good friends. I can't believe he recognized me in a crowd in Malaysia, considering we had not seen each other since were 12, so I thought that that was pretty crazy. We spent some time with him before heading back to the airport for our connecting flight to Hong Kong.

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We got to Hong Kong early in the morning and headed to my friend Caroline's apartment in the downtown core (she is a friend from UBC who is now living in Hong Kong). It was extremely nice of her to offer us her place and it worked out really well since her roommate was away and we could use his room. On our first day we wandered around the city, ate some dim sum, and went to the peak of the mountain that overlooks the city for an amazing view. We had dinner, then headed to a Canadian themed bar called the Keg! They served Molson Canadian and played old hockey games. The best part was that they served Caesars, which I have missed so much! It was really great.

The next day we went to Caroline's country club, had lunch, and sat by the pool. We went to the Dark Night Rises (again) and then headed across to Kowloon, which is actually part of the mainland instead of Hong Kong Island. The view of the city was breathtaking! We got dinner there and called it a night.

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On Monday, Caroline had to work so Ron and I spent the day shopping. The markets were great, although they clearly were not directed at tourists. We also went to several electronic malls which had great gadgets and gizmos for extremely cheap! I bought some things that I probably shouldn't have, but the prices were so good I couldn't resist! We had dinner at a Japanese Hibachi Restaurant where they cook the food right in front of you. It was very reasonably priced for a set menu and they gave us so much food. It was delicious!

On Tuesday, Ron and I headed into an area called Mong Kok where there was more shopping and more food. We were pretty shopped out so we found a bar that had the cheapest beer we had seen since Cambodia with pool tables, and dart boards. We killed a couple hours there before meeting Caroline for dinner at an Indian Restaurant. I could never get enough Indian food. As much as I enjoyed the Thai, Singaporean, and Chinese food, the two times I had Indian might have been my favorite two meals of my trip.

On Wednesday, we packed up and Ron and I parted ways. It's sad to leave him, but I am very excited for Australia! As I am writing this I am on a plane to Singapore where I'll catch a connecting flight to Sydney, and my friend Mat will pick me up from the airport. Singapore Airlines is great! Free drinks, good food, and comfortable seats. My flight to Sydney is on an Airbus A380, which is biggest passenger plane in the world. It's double decker! I've always been fascinated by this plane so I am actually excited for the flight, although I will probably sleep most of the way.

Posted by geoffboulton 23:09 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Siem Reap

Cambodia

We got to Cambodia at around 4 on the 24th. We went straight to our hostel, which ended up being very nice. We got a private room for $10 a night, only $3 more than a dorm room! We immediately met a girl from Ohio and a guy from Florida. We walked around and rented mountain bikes before going out for a Cambodian dinner. Cambodian food was very tasty, and nothing like I had ever had before. We went to bed early as we had a REALLY early start the next day.

We woke up at 4am, yes 4am, to bike ride to Angkor Wat for the sunrise. Angkor Wat is described as the mother of all temples. It was built in the 8th century and was inhabited by the Khmer people. Getting up early for the sunrise didn't end up working out too well as it was overcast and we couldn't see the sun rise. But it was a nice 8km bike ride in the dark, and it was good to get out early before it got really hot out. We spent a couple of hours at Angkor Wat before we had breakfast at a little hut nearby. It was my first experience with Cambodian coffee and it was fantastic. It's very strong and a little thick, with a hint of chocolate to it. I made sure to bring some home. After Angkor Wat we headed to a temple that was about 5km away called Ta Prohm, which is actually where Lara Croft Tomb Raider was filmed. This temple was amazing because of the vegetation that has grown in and around the temple. I forget what the trees were called but they actually grew out of and around the rocks. This temple was in quite the ruins. There were piles of rocks everywhere, but they had started to restore it which I think is unfortunate. I'd like to see the temples just how they are, not put back together. After that we headed to Angkor Thom, which was the biggest complex of temples in the area. The coolest temple of the day was within Angkor Thom called Bayon. It was the most intact and the most intricate of the temples we saw. We walked around the rest of Anchor Thom, which included more temples and terraces, before we headed back for a rest.

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After we got back to the hotel, we traded our bikes in for a tuk tuk (a small open cab that holds two people) as the next temple we were going to was 40km away. This temple, called Banteay Srei, was made out of pink sandstone which was very cool, but in terms of size and extravagance, was nothing compared to the other temples we saw. We then went to a landmine museum, which wasn't that great but you gave you some insight into the lasting effects of war. From there, we went to a military training ground where we went to a shooting range. It was awesome!! We were hoping to throw grenades but they were out of them. I shot an AK47 and Ron shot an M16! I made sure not to tell my mom before because I am sure she wouldn't have been too happy, but it was really cool. We got some great pictures with the guns and also with an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) after! It was really awesome.

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After a rest we went to dinner with our American and German friends. We had Khmer BBQ which is a lot like Korean BBQ which you can get in Vancouver. They bring a BBQ type apparatus, which is kind of a dome, with a moat around it which you add a broth to. It's hard to explain, but you cook the meat on the dome and then the moat collects the fat and juices and makes a delicious soup. You add veggies, noodles, and chili peppers to the soup and it gets very tasty! The meat was definitely the best part, though. They give you 5 different meats which you cook yourself. We had beef, prawns, frog legs, snake, and crocodile. I had never eaten an amphibian or reptile before so I was very excited. I quite enjoyed the frog and crocodile, and while the snake tasted good, it was pretty chewy. This whole meal was capped off by 50 cent beers, which is right up my alley. After that we went to a bar called Angkor What? where we played pool and danced and had a great time.

We slept in the next morning because the day before had been really, really long and we had pretty much done everything there was to do in the area between 4am and 5pm that day. We decided to take a day to relax. We went out for lunch (because we weren't awake for breakfast!) at a place called the Red Piano. We had some good western food, which we hadn't had in a while. We then went to get full body massages that cost us $6 for an hour. I actually fell asleep for most of it and so guess I wasn't too impressed. We got ice cream at this cool lounge after, called the Blue Pumpkin. They had couches and bean bag chairs so it was very relaxing. We had dinner with a couple that Ron met on the Facebook group for the MBA program that he is doing in September. The guy and his girlfriend just happened to be in Cambodia at the same time and he's in the same 80 person program as Ron, so that was very cool. We just had a couple beers, went to the night market, and went to bed.
We woke up the next morning early enough to finish our shopping. Cambodia has been the best place to shop by far. The prices are so cheap and they seem to accept US currency over the Cambodian Riel. I bought so many pairs of sunglasses and elephant pants it is ridiculous, but totally worth it. We are now headed to Hong Kong!

Posted by geoffboulton 09:07 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Singapore

July 21st-24th

We got to Singapore at just after noon on the Saturday the 21st. Grandma's friend Virginia Tan had set us up with a place to stay with her cousin and family, and they very generously picked us up from the airport. Monica, Eric, and their son John (age 12) were waiting for us outside customs. They are the nicest people in the world! They immediately took us out for lunch at a local Singapore coffee house that served the classic café fare, plus Singaporean food like noodles, soup, and other dishes. We had a great meal before they took us back to their place. They lived outside of the city, but only a couple blocks away from an MRT line, so it was extremely convenient. After settling in, we took a train into the city to explore. Singapore is absolutely beautiful. As far as cities go, it may be the coolest I have ever been to, architecturally speaking. The buildings are so stunning that some of them look like they are straight from a video game! The Marina Bay Sands hotel is probably the coolest sight I have ever seen. I'll post some pictures. After walking around, we decided to get a couple beers and play some pool before we mapped out our night. When we found that the cheapest beer we could find was $10 each ($8 CAD), having beers turned into having one beer. We decided to walk towards Singapore River where the financial district and restaurant/pub areas called Boat Quay and Clark Quay are. The quays were really cool areas comparable to Yaletown and Gastown, but even more expensive. We met the family for dinner at an Asian fusion restaurant at Clark Quay then headed to the one bar that we were happy to find had $5 beers, before calling it a night.

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The next morning we headed to a small island at the very south of Singapore called Sentosa. It is a resort island with a Universal Studios, a chairlift and gondola, and lots of beaches and restaurants. We simply just walked around the island as any of the attractions were far too expensive. The beaches were really nice, but nothing compared to Thailand, so we didn't spend too much time there. We found a nice bar to play pool at, then headed back to the city. We walked around some more and found a nice little Chinese place for dinner, and then we found a Chinese bar where they were singing Chinese karaoke that was quite annoying so we called it an early night!

On the 23rd we decided to go to the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel for lunch. We had hoped to stay a night there so we could go to the amazing pool that spans the three towers of the hotel, but it was $400 a night, and that was about $350 out of our price range! Instead we decided to go there for lunch. The restaurant was super nice, and we sat right on the edge of the roof at 60 stories high, looking over Singapore. The lunch was very expensive, but the meal was really delicious. We each got a bento box with roasted asparagus, pickled vegetables, some sort of salad with a sesame dressing, amazing sashimi, and salmon and rice. It was so good, but I hope I never have to pay that much for lunch again! We had nothing to do in the afternoon, so we went to watch the Dark Night Rises, which was an amazing movie. After that we met one of Virginia's nephews named Elliot, who had also stayed with Monica when he first arrived in Singapore. We ate a seafood feast with him and his friends. We had pepper crab, chili crab, cereal prawns, regular prawns, and some sort of fish. Apparently they were all Singaporean staples and it was so delicious!! We went to bed early again as we didn't want to spend the money to go out.

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The 24th was our last morning in Singapore. Monica's godson picked us up and took us to the WWII museum and POW chapel. It was very interesting, as we had no idea how much Singapore had been involved in the war. I lit a candle and said prayers for Grandad, Granny, and Grandpa at the chapel. We then met Monica for lunch before we flew out to our next stop, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Posted by geoffboulton 09:02 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Phuket... Again

Round 2

We got to Phuket at 6pm after a long day of traveling. After getting to the hotel we went to meet up with our friend Daniella, who we hung out with in Bangkok. It was great to see her again after about 2 and a half weeks apart. We caught up over dinner, then headed to the markets to shop. I had left all of my shopping for those last couple days in Phuket, which backfired once I realized how expensive the place was. Souvenirs and t-shirts and all the touristy stuff that I needed to buy were about twice the price as in Bangkok, and they had a much smaller selection. Needless to say, I didn't end up buying that much. I'm hoping Cambodia and Hong Kong will have some good shopping, so I can bring back some souvenirs for friends and family. After shopping we had a couple beers, got some pizza, and then went to bed.

Daniella met us at our hotel the next day to relax by the pool. We did that for a couple hours, went to shop some more, and then went back to the pool. We went out for Indian food for dinner and it was amazing! I had lamb rogan josh with garlic naan and I was in heaven. It was a nice break from Thai food. We had an early flight the next morning so we decided not to go out, but instead to grab a couple drinks and sit on the beach to soak in our last night in Thailand. There were fireworks and people lighting these torch things that float up into the sky, which is traditionally done for Chinese new years. That capped off our time in Thailand and we are so sad to leave. The country is so beautiful, the people are so friendly, and everything is laid back. I could have stayed there forever. We are now on to Singapore, where we'll be staying with Grandma's friend's cousin.

Posted by geoffboulton 01:11 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Krabi - updated and photos added!

Mainland scenery

sunny 35 °C

We woke up in good time our last morning in Phuket (at least until we go back to catch our flight to Singapore). We wanted to have lunch with our English friends before we all left. We had become the best of friends, so it was really hard to leave them, but we promised that we'll see each other again.
We got a ferry to Krabi, which is on the mainland of the of Thailand, across from the peninsula that Phuket is on. We checked into our hotel and walked around the town which is called Ao Nang. The scenery here is out of this world! The beaches and rock formations are breathtaking. The town is extremely mellow, which is a relief after Phuket and Koh Phi Phi. We had dinner at a restaurant that overlooked the water, and the view was amazing as we got there just as the sun was setting. We then just headed home for a chill night since Ron was not feeling great. Luckily we found a channel with English movies, so we kept ourselves entertained.
Ron was still feeling a little sick in the morning, so we postponed our kayak tour until tomorrow. Instead we headed over to Railay Beach by taxi boat, about a 15 minute trip. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been! The beach was just gorgeous. The sand was white and the water was teal blue. We could swim up to the massive rock formations, and there were a ton of people climbing. It was very mellow and we had a great time swimming and suntanning before having lunch and exploring the town. That night we had dinner at an Italian restaurant (in Thailand, run by Indians!) and then went back to the room and watched the Discovery channel.
The hotel we are staying at is very luxurious, which is a bit of a relief after the last couple of places! We haven't stayed anywhere that was overly grungy, but we've really learned to appreciate a good bathroom with a decent shower! The only knock is that there are not a lot of young people in our hotel, but our next couple of days are packed with tours, so that isn't much of an issue.

We woke up early the next morning to do a tour to the James Bond island. The island was in The Man With The Golden Gun, a movie that I have not seen. It was raining and the island was not that interesting so we could have done without it. After that we went kayaking around small islands and into caves which was really cool. We actually had to lie down flat in the kayak to get into some of the caves. We then went to a floating town. We thought it was just a market, but we discovered that people actually live there. There was a school and houses, all kept up by stilts. We had lunch there, then went back to the mainland. Our last stop was at the monkey temple, where monkeys were everywhere. These monkeys were much friendlier than the monkeys we saw in Phi Phi. If you held food in your hand, they would climb on you and sit on your shoulder and eat. One little guy, who I named Ringo, sat on me for about 20 minutes just eating away. I was in heaven. That night we met up with these Australian guys who were on the tour with us. We found a bar that had live music and a pool table, so we had a few drinks there. I then discovered that you could go up and sing with the band, which made me really excited, because we've been looking for karaoke. I got up there and sang Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. Luckily, the bar was dead and I had had enough beer that I couldn't embarrass myself too bad.
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We woke up early again the next morning to go elephant trekking and white water rafting. The elephant trekking was amazing. Elephants are so friendly and so cute, they quickly made their way up my list of favorite animals. I named the elephant that we rode Fred, and he was awesome. After our ride was done, they brought over one of the younger elephants to give us a little show. He danced, sat on his bum like a human, kissed me, and played harmonica! We named him Bob after Bob Dylan. Next we went to a waterfall, which was great because the water was clear and cold, so we finally found some refreshing water to swim in (a nice change from the warm waters at the beaches we have been to!). Plus, we were very happy to get rid of the stinky elephant smell that had embedded itself in our skin. After the waterfall we headed to white water rafting, which was a ton of fun. I had never done it before and I knew I would enjoy myself, but I'm sure it would be a little more thrilling back in BC, although it was much cheaper here! We ate dinner at the top of the hill at the Lei Lay Seafood Bar. The restaurant had a great view of the ocean and landscape around us and we figured we could spoil ourselves for one meal, so the food was amazing! I had fresh crab fried in ginger and chili and Ron had an entire grouper steamed with soy sauce. Man, was it good. We left Krabi early the next morning to go to our last stay in Thailand, back at Phuket.

Posted by geoffboulton 14:22 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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